Thompsons lands victory for pilot in BA flexible-working test case

Civil law firm Thompsons has scored a settlement for British Airways (BA) pilot Jessica Starmer, who sought more flexible working hours after becoming a mother.

After a three-year campaign by Thompsons, instructed by the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) on behalf of Starmer, BA agreed to a 50 per cent reduction in Starmer’s working hours.

The settlement is a triumph for flexible-working campaigners as contracts similar to Starmer’s will be made available to other BA pilots.

The airline has also agreed to withdraw an appeal it sought after an employment appeals tribunal led by Mr Justice Burton in 2005 held that BA was not justified in denying Starmer more flexible working hours.

In addition, BA will make a donation to a charity of Starmer’s choice and a contribution to her costs.

In an agreed statement the parties said: “British Airways and Mrs Starmer each recognise the need for flexibility on the part of employers to enable parents to balance the needs of a demanding career and family life.

“Both British Airways and Mrs Starmer are pleased that these issues have been resolved in a way that allows Mrs Starmer to progress her career as a commercial airline pilot and care for her children.”

Starmer was represented by Thompsons partner Rakesh Patel, who instructed Michael Ford of Old Square Chambers.

BA’s legal team, headed by Maria da Cunha, advised the airline and instructed Christopher Jeans QC for 11 King’s Bench Walk and Nicholas Randall of Devereux Chambers during the appeals.